He was arguably the greatest statesman in Montana history, and now The University of Montana has created an online exhibit to highlight the many accomplishments of Mike Mansfield.
The new exhibit is online at http://exhibits.lib.umt.edu/mansfield.
A Butte miner and UM graduate, Mansfield served Montana in the U.S. Congress from 1942 to 1977. He was the longest-serving Senate majority leader and also held the post of U.S. Ambassador to Japan for 12 years. He died in 2001.
The exhibit was created by staffers at UM organizations that bear the Mansfield name: the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library and the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center.
“The goal of this exhibition is to highlight Mansfield’s impact as a responsible decision-maker and an ethical leader in both domestic and foreign policy,” UM Archivist Donna McCrea said. “Mansfield’s particular brand of statesmanship seems especially rare these days. He deserves to be remembered.”
The digital exhibit consists of Mansfield speeches, statements and interviews. They span his career as a candidate, legislator and ambassador. Documents date from 1939 to 1988, with the majority of content from the 1940s to the ’70s.
“Mansfield was widely recognized for his integrity and his moral authority in public life,” said Deena Mansour, associate director of the Mansfield Center. “His life is an extraordinary reminder of how we can work together for the common good. We appreciate the outstanding efforts of the library staff to make Mansfield’s lifework on such critical areas as civil rights, Watergate and the Vietnam War more accessible to the public.”
She said the center funding was made possible by a congressionally appropriated grant administered by the U.S. Department of Education, but that does not imply endorsement of specific exhibit materials by the federal government.
More than 1,500 files were digitized and are keyword searchable. The digitized files were drawn from the Mike Mansfield Papers, an archival collection held by UM Archives and Special Collections. Altogether the Mansfield Papers consist of more than 4,500 boxes of files and photographs.
Another element of the online exhibit is eight essays and scans of relevant documents from the Mansfield Papers.
“What is available online is just a fraction of what is available at the archives,” McCrea said. “One goal of the essays is to encourage further research into these topics and into the work of Mansfield himself. Because there is so much more that could and should be written about Mansfield’s legacy.”